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Weclome to the Service Workbench at
Quilting Quarters of San Angelo.


We now offer warranty and repair service on all BERNINA products. Simply bring your machine to us and our skilled technical staff will make sure your BERNINA sewing machine receives quick and competent attention.


Just give us a call at (325)227-8784 or come on by at 2124 West Beauregard Avenue
You can also send us an email at: fixit@quiltingquarters.net

Frequently Asked Questions


DIRT!!!


When should I get my machine cleaned?
The most obvious answer is - the machine should be cleaned when it gets dirty. A better answer is - it depends on the thread you're using, the material you're sewing and the number of total stitches over time. A good rule of thumb is to have your machine serviced annually or when it logs a million stitches - whichever comes first.

Sewing machines and sergers are complex precision devices built to exacting tolerances. Modern computerized sewing machines are even more so. Dirt is their biggest enemy. Dirt can make a sewing machine old before its time. Dirt can dramatically increase machine failures while dramatically reducing stitch quality. It just doesn't make any sense to spend serious money on an expensive sewing machine and then fail to take proper care of it with regular maintenance and cleaning.

Don't let your BERNINA machine get to looking like this...






Is it OK to use compressed air to blow dust out of the hook and bobbin?
No. No. No. No. No. And furthermore, no. Blowing dirt around inside the covers of your sewing machine will only drive dirt deeper into its innards and make it just that much harder to clean. If you find your sewing activity generates an excessive amount of lint, then purchase a small inexpensive portable vacuum cleaner and suck as much dirt out of the machine as you can.

When a sewing machine comes into my shop looking like this, I charge by the pound...




THREAD


What kind of thread should I use?
You may be surprised to learn that thread has an expiration date. Unless there is a compelling reason otherwise, it does not make sense to buy that tempting box of antique thread at the neighborhood yard sale – especially if it happens to be on wooden spools. Thread manufacturers have not used wooden spools in several decades because of the chemical deterioration effects that the wood spool has upon the thread wound around it.

The same is true of that stash you might have inherited from a previous generation. The cotton, nylon and polyester materials used in fabrics and thread do not last forever. They become brittle and fragile with age and cannot stand up to the demands that a modern sewing machine places upon them.

As expensive, precise and well-maintained as your sewing machine might be, you will not get great quality results from poor quality thread. I don’t know about you, but my least favorite part of sewing is fighting with machine jams, thread breaks and the dreaded ‘Bird’s Nest.’ Nothing spoils the mood (and the sewing project) quite like ripping out loose loopy stitches and / or rethreading the machine. The best, easiest and cheapest way to avoid the majority of these problems is to use fresh, high-quality thread.

Customers bring machines into my shop on a regular basis with complaints about stitch quality while using thread that was manufactured twenty years ago. Not even the best and most expensive BERNINA sewing machine will deliver the great results you have come to expect using thread that was manufactured twenty years ago. It just ain’t gonna happen. And so my advice to you is this – if you’re going to take the time, trouble and expense to plan your next project, don’t skimp on the thread. Go ahead and spring for some new thread. You and your project are worth it.







What about metallic thread?
Metallic thread definitely has 'Cool Factor.' It gives your sewing project an amazing sparkle that makes it come alive. Sewing projects done well with metallic thread will turn heads. Having said that, sewing with metallic thread also presents a unique challenge. It takes a little more attention to detail than using ordinary thread. Here are some things to consider.

Do not skip on the quality of thread. You have to know that there is a direct relationship between cost and quality. Don't skimp on the thread. You and your project are worth it.

Metallic thread is not as strong and robust as modern polyester/cotten blended thread and can be fussy and prone to breakage. Use the least amount of thread tension you possibly can that will still yield the quality of stitch you desire. Slowing down the machine speed will also slow down the frequency of thread breakage and save you the aggravation of constantly having to re-thread the machine.

Use the biggest, baddest, fattest needle you possibly can and still not damage your fabric. A 90-14 needle or bigger is recommended. Even at that, you will only get a few hours of use out of each needle. If you have a big project, lay in an adequate supply.

I don't know how to say this to you gently, but metallic thread will eventually cut your sewing machine into pieces. Metallic thread will quickly wear grooves into whatever it touches - tension plates, takeup arms, thread guides, presser feet, stitch plates, and hooks. Even the zippa-dee-doo-daa high tech needles made from the hardest vanadium  chrome alloys with a tungsten carbide tip and a ceremaic eye coated with titanium nitride will not endure long when sewing with metallic thread.

Thread lubrication with various slick silicon concoctions will help mitigate some of these problems, but it will tend to create others. Thread lubrication will eventually gunk up the thread path to attract more dirt and lint than you bargained for.

I'm not saying you should not use metallic thread. Just be aware of the pitfalls because sometimes the results are worth it. Winnng best of show at a quilt convention is priceless. Leave the mucking out of the sewing machine to me.


NEEDLE


What kind of needle should I use?
The obvious answer is - use needles that are new, straight and sharp. What is not so obvious is that the number one complaint about the performance, quality, accuracy and reliability of a sewing machine is related to the needle.

I don’t care how new or old your machine might be. It matters not how much or how little you paid for your machine. It matters not who manufactured or maintained your machine. It matters not how experienced or novice at sewing you might be. There is no use arguing with physics. A sharp straight needle will yield great results. A dull bent needle will yield tiresome aggravation.

If you bring your machine to me for service, the very first thing I will do is install a new needle and dispose of the old one. Then, and only then, will I test how the machine functions. I do this because the needle is, quite literally, the heart of the sewing machine. If the needle is not sharp, straight and true, nothing else will matter because nothing else will work. Even though seemingly simple, the sewing machine needle is a finely engineered device and carefully manufactured to exacting standards. Despite this, the needle is the first thing to be damaged and/or wear out even in ordinary use.

Not to put too fine of a point on the argument (pun intended), a sewing machine is nothing more than an expensive doorstop if it does not have a sharp, straight and true needle installed.

If in the process of servicing the machine and I accidentally snag or bump the needle (which happens a lot), I change the needle. If there is any question in my mind about the integrity of the needle, I’ll change it – again. When returning a machine to the customer, I’ll install a fresh needle – again.  Yeah, I have a sharps container on my workbench to dispose of all the old needles. For that matter, so should you.

Needles are easy to change. In fact, you should be generous about needles. They are cheap when bought in bulk. It is not an unreasonable thing for you to purchase a 100-count pack of needles. If you ever break a needle, you’ll have a plentiful supply of replacements.  Whenever you start a new project – change the needle. After you finish off three or four bobbins – change the needle. Should the machine break the thread in the middle of a project – change the needle.

Here is a small sampling of needles - every one of which was causing a machine failure...


And so my advice to you is this – if you’re going to take the time, trouble and expense to plan your next project, don’t skimp on the needles. Go ahead and spring for a pack of new ones. You and your project are worth it.


TENSION


What is thread tension?
Have you ever tried to tie a ribbon around a package? It's a tricky business to bring the two ends of the ribbon together and tie them into a knot. When I attempt this task I have to borrow a fingertip from someone to help hold the ribbons together so I can use both my hands to tie a tight knot. The knot has to be tight enough to hold the package together, but not so tight as to squeeze the package out of shape.

This is exactly what happens to the thread in a sewing machine. You are trying to sew fabric together with two threads. One thread comes from the spool and the other thread comes from the bobbin. The machine functions much like a borrowed fingertip to help hold the two threads together while you tie a knot. The knot has to be tight enough to hold the fabric together, but not so tight as to bunch the fabric up into a wad. The difference between borrowing a fingertip and a sewing machine is the sewing machine helps you tie many knots in a very short period of time.

The upper thread comes from the spool you place on top of the machine. It usually goes through some sort of thread guide or pre-tensioner and then through the upper thread tension plates (adjustable either manually or electronically). From there it goes through the takeup arm and another set of thread guides and finally arrives at the eye of the needle.

When the needle is threaded, the machine then pushes the needle through the hole in the presser foot, through the fabric, through the feed dogs, through the hole in the stitch plate and places the thread somewhere in the vicinity of the hook.

The lower thread comes from the bobbin you installed in a bobbin case somewhere in the machine below the stitch plate. The thread usually goes through some sort of thread tension gadetry on the bobbin case and passes within the reach of the needle and the hook.

As the hook spins, it grabs hold of a loop of upper thread from the needle and wraps it around the bobbin case. As the upper thread wraps around the bobbin case, it crosses the path of the lower thread coming from the bobbin. As the needle moves back up, both threads lock together into a knot. Voilà! We have a stitch. And it happens in less than a blink of the eye. Repeat a bazillion times and you have a completed sewing project.

It sounds complicated, but it really isn't. The needle just has to deliver the upper thread to the right place at the right time. Meanwhile, the hook just has to deliver the bobbin thread to the right place at the right time. The tension that the sewing machine places on both threads is the 'fingertip' needed to tie the threads together.

Simple. Right? Well, there's a little more to the story of thread tension. It's not quite enough just to tie the fabric together with two pieces of thread because neatness counts. And that's why thread tension is so important.

Generally speaking, the goal is to use as little thread tension as possible and still create a neat stitch. Ordinarily, the bobbin case thread tension is adjusted to a fixed value (which is usually set at a minimum). I have special tools and weights that I use to set the bobbin case thread tension. The vast majority of sewing machines will allow you, the sewist, to adjust the upper thread tension (against the lower thread tension) so you can create a neat stitch.

A neat stitch is usually defined as one where the upper thread does not yank the lower thread to the top of the fabric. Likewise, the lower thread does not yank the upper thread to the bottom of the fabric. The knot is hidden somethere in the middle of the fabric.

Here is the summary of this long-winded explanation. If you see the lower thread peeking through on the top side of the fabric, decrease/loosen the upper thread tension a bit. Likewise, if you see the upper thread peeking through on the bottom side of the fabric, increase/tighten the upper thread tension a bit.

My advice to you - before you start sewing, take a scrap of fabric from your project and set the upper thread tension to your liking. The results will be worth your time and effort.



SOFTWARE / FIRMWARE


What is a software / firmware update?
Back in the good old days, sewing machines were purely mechanical creatures. Now that we're in the 21st century, more and more of the sewing machine's functions have been taken over by computerized hardware driven by microprocessors. Generally speaking, software programs have some sort of user interface - a display screen you can touch and/or buttons you can push. On the other hand, firmware refers to computer programs that do not usually have a user interface.

Think of it this way - you use computer software to tell the sewing machine what you want it to do. Computer firmware tells the sewing machine how to do it.

The point is, modern sewing machines have been designed in such a way that their features and functions can be modified, enhanced, expanded and upgraded with the installation of appropriate computer software and firmware. Additionally, as occasional problems and errors in software and firmware are discovered, they can be easily resolved by applying simple updates.

The easiest, quickest, simplest and cheapest way to keep your BERNINA machine software and firmware up-to-date can be found here...

BERNINA Software / Firmware Support Page

If you need a firmware update, click on the tab for 'Search Support Info For BERNINA Models' and look for your machine type.

If you need a software update, click on the tab for 'Search Support Info For Software' and look for your software package.

There are also other handy resources on this web page that you might find helpful.

If you decide to attempt to update your BERNINA machine yourself, you must first download, read and understand the instructions. When you have wrapped your brain around everything involved, then download the software/firmware update package. When you have the instructions and the software/firmware update package in your possession, just follow the bouncing ball. It's easy to do.

If you're not comfortable with all the computer stuff, never fear. BERNINA has done a great job of hiring talented programmers who have written solid software and firmware. The vast majority of software/firmware fixes are minor and can be applied when you bring your machine to your friendly neighborhood BERNINA dealer for regular maintenance.